Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures, Vol. 1., by J Torres and J. Bone

This collection begins: “Once upon a time, in the expansive sultanate of Shahrazad, within the arid region of Es-Sindbad, just outside the ancient city of Ala-Ed-Din, there was a bored little girl named Alison Dare.” This may give you a taste for the prose of this funny graphic novel series. Our heroine is 12 years old, the daughter of an archaeologist/adventurer and a librarian/superhero (the distinction between librarian and superhero is always fine, and here it disappears completely). Alison has several adventures with her two best friends, Dot, fashion conscious and feminine, and Wendy, a walking encyclopedia. The two of them are basically Daphne and Velma of Scooby-Doo, respectively. A significant portion of this collection relates the story of Alison’s parents – how they met and how her father became the Blue Scarab.

Alison is mischievous, intelligent, and adventurous. She occasionally gets into trouble, mostly through a lack of common sense. In the first story in this collection she summons a genie from a lamp her mother uncovered and asks him first to make her friends appear (they are less than pleased with the situation when they land in the desert!) and then to give them 1001 Arabian Nights. Through a miscommunication, the genie instead gives her 1001 Arabian Knights, who wreak havoc on the camp until Alison uses her third wish to put everything back to normal.
The other stories in this collection are very similar to Indiana Jones tales, except the hero is Alison’s mother. As in those movies, there is a German (Baron von Baron) who steals the artifacts she uncovers. In the climax of the graphic novel, he comes to steal another treasure. Alison’s mother, father, and super-spy uncle team up to stop him, but it is up to Alison’s quick thinking that saves them all.

Why I recommend this graphic novel:
This is a clever, fun adventure series starring a young girl. I wanted to hear more of Alison’s adventures, instead of her parents’, but there are several more volumes of the series that answer this desire. Alison is spunky and intelligent; if she sometimes disobeys her parents it is usually with good intentions. She gets into the kind of trouble any young girl might get into – as when she explores boxes she shouldn’t because she is bored. However, she always makes things right in the end. Girls who enjoy action and who (when they get older) may enjoy Indiana Jones will love this series. Alison is resourceful and isn’t afraid to kick some butt, and her mother is also a role model (like Alison, she is brave and intelligent, and she is in a traditionally masculine field – archaeology – while Alison’s father is a librarian). Unusual gender roles, exciting adventures, and funny moments make this a wonderful graphic novel for any child.

Torres, J. Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures, Vol. 1. Illus. by J. Bone. Tundra Books, 2010. Gr. 4-6

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